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The sports shoe industry in China

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The sports shoe industry in China A sweatshop is a workplace where workers are subject to extreme exploitation, including the absence of a living wage or benefits, poor working conditions, such as health and safety hazards , and arbitrary discipline, such as physical and psychological abuse. Brief History: There have probably been sweatshops since one man first began working for another. Although sweatshops certainly existed before, the term "sweatshop" itself did not appear in common usage until the 1890s. Since the dawning of the Industrial Revolution, employers began to look for cheap labor in order to fill the needs of the expanding industries. Sweatshop production came out of hibernation in the late 1960s from U.S. A combination of forces contributed to their reappearance: changes in the retail industry, a growing global economy, increased reliance on contracting, and a large pool of cheap labor-mostly immigrants in the U.S. Nowadays, with the globalization of economy, workers around the world-- from New York and Los Angeles to Bangkok, Spain and San Salvador-- are experiencing the proliferation of sweatshop conditions. Perhaps the sports shoe industry in China is one of the most typical examples of sweatshop. Most of the sports shoe factories, located in the Pearl River Delta in south China, are set up with Hong Kong and Taiwanese investment. These factories are contracted by Nike or Reebok and Adidas. Almost all of workers in these factories are peasant workers (min gong) ...read more.


And these sports shoe giants have been enjoying huge profits by exploiting the huge gap between production costs (particularly labour costs) and the high production prices at which those shoes are sold in market. Meanwhile, working conditions in sports shoe making factories are getting worse then it was before. This is especially true that the number of hours that workers are forced to work has actually increased in the past few years. However, Poor conditions in the factory are not simply the result of having a particularly harsh factory owner. Generally, companies like Nike and Reebok do not deal with production,they distance themselves through subcontracting, benefiting from low production costs without any direct responsibilitie. Subcontracting allows them to respond quickly to changing styles and fashions, while passing all of the uncertainty and insecurity to their subcontractors and ultimately to the workers themselves. With little or no notice, the multinationals can change the order and demand a different style of shoe, forcing the subcontractor to make rapid changes in their production set-up. Since everything must be done very quickly; the workers have to work harder and faster, and to work overtime if they want to keep their jobs. And it is actually the multinationals, not the subcontractors that ultimately set the pace of production as well as the wages of the workers. If a subcontractor wants to stay in business, he must accept the timeline set by the multinational and accept the price the multinational is willing to pay per shoe. ...read more.


Finally, the Chinese government is also much more responsible for the problem. Sadly, as a developing country, there is trade-off between developing economy and improving working condition of workers, although these two should not have any inverse relationships under normal circumstances. Personally I have seen how fast China is changing, and the living standard for some people has been improved tremendously, on the other hand, the living condition for others is getting worse due to exploitations mentioned above. However, do not interpret this the wrong way. I love my country and I do not blame the government for I believe that the government only wants what is best for the citizens and for the nation. It would be too idealistic to think that a single paper can come up with solutions that have eluded government officials at the national level. However, there are some suggestions that I came up with, and there is a very good example - the rise of Japanese economy. I think that while attracting foreign capitals into the country, the Chinese business sector should also consider how to generate capital in their own country. Government emphasis in technology and education is one of the methods that could be employed to increase productivity of the labour pool and thus avoid exploitation. Technology advances (with little confidence to relate this topic to technology, since I am truly aware of that the technology expressed in different terms in real life somehow have caused fundamental social problems) also allow the country to produce their own products which attract foreign buyers, as in the case of Japanese Automobile industry. ...read more.

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